Redefining Basic: How Following An Alkaline Diet Boosts Your Health

by Katie Lemons

While summer is all about swimming, hiking and sunshine, the fall season seems to include both a drop in temperature and activity, with an influx of all things apple cider, donuts, pumpkin-spiced products and lounging in cozy sweaters.

In order to fight off the fatigue and weight gain that inevitably accompanies gearing up for winter, I think it’s necessary to go back to  the “basics.”

But not basic in the pumpkin spice latte drinking, Ugg wearing way.

Scientifically, the word "basic" is synonymous with alkaline.

The environment inside our bodies needs to stay in a certain acid-based range, or the cells circulating inside will die.

When the body is too acidic (that is, below a pH of seven), it becomes vulnerable to disease and germs.

In this acidic range, we experience impaired energy levels, fluid accumulation, edema and free radical production, which are all likely to contribute to degenerative and autoimmune diseases.

It makes sense then, that with these new cravings for pies and lattes, we make our body’s environment more acidic, in turn leaving it vulnerable to disease.

Perhaps that's why everyone seems to get the sniffles during this shift in season.

Indulging in these easily available comfort foods creates an internal acidic state, which makes us sick.

In order to avoid the increased weight and decreased immunity, studies show the efficacy of an alkaline diet.

According to Robert O. Young, co-author of "The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health," the prescription is this: Eighty percent of your diet should be alkalizing food, and 70 to 80 percent of those foods should be raw.

Nature is the main provider of balancing alkaline molecules (think leafy green vegetables), whereas sugar, dairy, meat, coffee and junk foods are acidifying.

Heat destroys enzymes, which is why you want to get a lot of your food uncooked (or at least cooked as little as possible).

Cooked food requires the body to produce all the necessary enzymes, creating unnecessary stress and diverting its resources from other jobs.

Also, always choose organic.

These are the foods to avoid on the alkaline diet: highly refined foods, dairy products, white flour, processed foods, chocolate, coffee, alcoholic beverages, beef, chicken, corn, eggs, grains, lamb, nuts, pork, plums, prunes, rice, sodas, shellfish, sugar, sweet potatoes, turkey and unripe fruit.

Okay, this list looks scary, as if there’s no room for any fun.

But keep in mind, the alkalizing diet consists of only eating 80 percent alkalizing food, of which I’ve provided a list below.

Therefore, there’s plenty of room to splurge a bit.

So avoid the above foods and reach for these instead: ripe fruits, leafy green vegetables, barley, buckwheat, soy beans, lima beans, azuki beans, brazil nuts, sprouted almonds, honey, millet, amaranth, quinoa, spelt and buckwheat.

Beyond just diet habits, I think it’s necessary to put more emphasis on psychological sources of acidity as well.

Lifestyle habits such as emotional upheaval, negative thinking patterns and other psychological stressors can also contribute to an internal toxic body state.

Therefore, it’s vital to emphasize not only a healthy, plant-based diet, but also a low-stress lifestyle in order to maintain a good acid and base balance.

Here's an example of what you should be doing on a "basic" day:

Upon waking, drink a glass of warm water with either lemon or apple cider vinegar.

For breakfast, have a smoothie with spinach, chlorella, plant-based vanilla protein powder, coconut water, banana, frozen peaches and frozen pineapple.

For a snack, have a brown rice cake with almond butter, flax seed and cinnamon.

For lunch, have a macro bowl consisting of quinoa, sweet potato, lentils, steamed kale, radishes and sprouts with a tahini ginger dressing.

For the dressing, mix two tablespoons of tahini with fresh ginger, fresh garlic, lemon, salt, pepper and water. Blend to your desired consistency.

For another snack, eat a handful of brazil nuts with carrots and cucumbers.

For dinner, have salmon with lots of vegetables, such as roasted turnips, arugula and asparagus roasted in coconut oil.

Before bed, try the four-seven-eight breathing exercise to induce serenity and calm.

Inhale for four breaths, hold the inhale for seven counts and exhale for eight counts.

Repeat five to 10 times.

Exercise daily. Take a walk to unwind or spend an hour at yoga.

Just like a basic bitch craves her Uggs and venti Pumpkin Spice Latte, the body too craves a basic state.

Rather than prescribing to the 2015 version of the word, think alkalizing diet instead.

Making just small changes in your diet and activity levels can enhance your entire well-being.